I Must Be Living Under A Rock: The Cost Of Prom Season

Well, it’s official!

Kevin is taking his girlfriend to her prom in Long Island.

I think that I’m more excited about it than he is. Kevin always keeps a calm, low-key demeanor about most anything exciting that is happening in his life… that’s just how he is and where I pick up the slack.

He is also the king of leaving everything for the last-minute, which always seems to include a lot of running around for all of us.

After a long weekend of doubles,which also included driving around with an 80 pound pig, (see that post for details) I found myself driving Kevin to Men’s Wearhouse to pick out a tux, with only days to spare before the prom.

I was shocked to discover that renting a tuxedo starts at two hundred and fifty dollars. Holy shit! Have I been living under a rock?

Maybe I have or I just haven’t ever had the need to rent a tuxedo or to date a man who wears one, for that matter…

Anyway, after style, color selections and much measuring, we had finally narrowed it down to a black tux with a single button jacket and pink accents to match Kevin’s girlfriend Anna’s pink gown.

“Do you want to wear a cummerbund?” Devin (our sales clerk asked).

“What’s a cummerbund?” Kevin asked, as if he had never heard the word before, while confirming that he most definitely hadn’t.

“A cummerbund goes around your waist.” I stated, “Why don’t you just go with the vest?”

“They call it a crumb catcher.” Devin added.

“I won’t need that.” Kevin replied, with a serious expression.

Devin and I both laughed. I admit I was feeling quite giddy about the whole prom thing and seeing my son in his first tux.

“Mom, can you calm it down a bit.” Kevin suggested, as if my excited mood was embarrassing him.

“Would you like argyle socks?” The sales clerk inquired, “They’re twenty dollars extra.”

“Twenty dollars for a pair of socks?” I laughed, “You’ve got to be kidding me! No, No…we don’t need argyle socks.”

The clerk handed Kevin a shirt, stock tuxedo and a pair of shoes to try on as he pointed him towards the dressing room.

Devin and I talked, joked and exchanged stories while we waited for Kevin to get changed.

Devin walked to the dressing room door and passed something over to Kevin.

“What’s this for?” Kevin shouted out.

“It’s to put on when you try on the dress shoes.” Devin replied.

“What?” Kevin said.

“Kevin, it’s a ped. You know, what you put on your foot to try on shoes… remember you and your brothers pulled them over your faces in Payless Shoes when you were little… you looked like you were going to rob the place…”

Devin was cracking up.

“Mom, can you take it down a notch, please.” Kevin yelled from the dressing room.

When the door finally opened and I saw Kevin in his tux, I couldn’t believe the handsome man who stood before me.

“Kevin, you look gorgeous!” I said with tears in my eyes, “The next time we’ll be doing this there’ll be wedding bells.”

“Mom, please don’t start crying.” Kevin pleaded.

Before finalizing our transaction Devin gave us a thirty dollar discount on the rental.

I paid for the tux (minus the argyle socks). Devin printed our receipt and explained the pick up and return instructions.

We had just enough time to get Kevin to work and I was quite pleased with all we had manged to accomplish in a short time.

As I pulled up in front of Kevin’s place of employment and put the car into park, Kevin leaned over and gave me a tight hug.

“Thank you Mom for paying for my tux. I love you so much.”

“I love you too Kevin. It was my pleasure. You and Anna are going to look beautiful!”

As, I watched Kevin walk into work, I thought, two hundred and fifty dollars isn’t expensive for a tux… in fact, it’s worth every penny.

 

 

 

 

 

The Center of Things

I originally started my blog in June of 2016, after only three years of talking about it. One of my first posts was called “Boys, Boys, Boys.” It is a very funny story that unfortunately took place when my father was ill. While I was typing on my laptop, I inadvertently hit something that deleted a good part of my post. I was frustrated and told myself that I would get back to it. Now, if you’re a writer and this has ever happened to you, I know you understand the feeling of not wanting to go back and recreate something you already created.

Well, that was June, the months pasted. (July, August, September) and I never got back to it. My family and friends kept asking me again and again if I was writing. “I know, I’m going to.” I’d reply. (October, November, December) My fiance’ John would encourage me to write…I would say I was going to and then I wouldn’t do it. I think it was certainly the idea of recreating what I had already written, but it was more revisiting a very difficult time in my life when my dad was dying.

One day in January, my mother sent me a book called Write For Life by Sheppard B. Kominars, PhD.

Write for Life: Healing Body, Mind, & Spirit through Journal Writing by [Kominars, Sheppard B.]

As I opened the book and flipped through the pages, I found a paper tucked in the back. I unfolded the paper to reveal the title, “The Center of Things.” I read the article out loud and by the time I got to the end I was crying. The Center of Things was the column that my late Aunt Betty wrote for a New Hampshire newspaper.

I called my mother and asked her if she knew that a copy of one of Aunt Betty’s columns was tucked in the book that she gave me. My mother had no idea, in fact, my mother told me she had two copies of Write for Life. She told my sister that she could take whichever one she wanted and the one that was left was for me.

After I hung up the phone, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my mother said. How could it be that I got the copy of the book with Aunt Betty’s column in it? My Aunt Betty was an amazing person and a wonderful writer. She had a great sense of humor and it certainly came through in her writing. When I was living in North Carolina, we used to talk on the phone and we would email each other things that we each had written. Aunt Betty took such pleasure in reading my stories (and I in hers). She would tell me that I was talented and she encouraged me to write more. I love my Aunt Betty and I miss her so much. What I wouldn’t give to have that time with her back. That night, I fell asleep with thoughts of my Aunt.

I woke up and looked at the clock, 3:33 AM. I was wide awake. I tried to fall back asleep but I couldn’t. Now this may sound a bit out there to some of you, but it is said that the best time to connect with spirit is between 2 and 4 AM. This crossed my mind. Why did I suddenly wake up? I mean, I am not a light sleeper and I enjoy my sleep. If you’re thinking I’m a little off my rocker at this point, let me just go ahead and tip the rocker right over…It also hadn’t gone unnoticed to me that the numbers on the clock were 3:33. It is said that 11:11 and times with repeating numbers are angel signs, I thought.

Feeling like I was over thinking things and maybe feeling a bit crazy and unsettled, I grabbed the book my mother had sent and began to read. As I read Write for Life, I was fascinated with what it had to say about the power of writing and all of the positive affects it can have on a person’s health, well-being and life.

After I completed the first chapter I closed the book and sat in silence. It was so calm, so still and so quiet in the house this time of the morning.

I slowly opened my laptop, hit the power button, logged into my blog site, and began to write. I finished writing Boys, Boys, Boys and I wrote several more posts in the days that followed.

I have always believed that there are no coincidences in life. I also believe that my beloved Aunt Betty is always there cheering me on, encouraging me to write.

And here’s some food for thought…

Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous. - Albert Einstein

 

Take time to notice and even act on the coincidences that life presents, you may be surprised by the places that they lead you,

Erin Cooper Reed

 

Another New England Snow Storm

All of your friends in other states are laughing as they send photos of the beach and sunny skies. Part of you says, wouldn’t that be nice? What are we doing here, still in New England? You know you dread the frigid temperatures, the shoveling, the treacherous roads…

Yet, deep in your heart you secretly love the snow day. You loved it as a child and you embrace it as an adult… the unexpected, random day off, the silenced alarm clock, the weight of the warm covers and the chance to sleep in.

You’ve done the footwork, watched the weather channel, grocery shopped for what seems like a months worth of meals in preparation and Googled the school closings. Yes, there is shoveling to do but the beauty of the snow glistening on the barren tree branches takes your breath away as your hands clasp your steamy cup of morning coffee.

Your kids are so excited that they race outside laughing and playing, light of heart, while your dog barks with a snow-capped nose as he chases after them. Without a doubt, a huge pile of wet clothes, hats and mittens form on the floor next to the dryer…only to be ignored due to the hot chocolate topped with whip cream and a batch of warm toll house cookies straight from the oven.

A lazy day…

A fire…

A board game…

A nap…

A snuggle…

A long conversation…

A family movie…

Whatever it is that makes your snow day special, have no doubt that it IS SPECIAL. It is all of these things that make beautiful memories. It is also one of the many things that I love about being a New Englander.

In fact, I wouldn’t trade it for the hottest beach or the sunniest sky.

Why You Should Care About Historic Homes

I spent twenty years in an abusive marriage before finally leaving in January 2010. My three sons and I have endured a great amount of trauma and pain which has had long-lasting effects on all of us. I’ve come to realize that unfortunately, what you leave is also what you take with you. It hasn’t been an easy road. My youngest son, Marc, has had the most difficult time dealing not only with what transpired in my marriage, but with my divorce from his father. Marc struggles with anxiety and depression and he also has ADHD. Everyday presents a new set of challenges that most parents couldn’t even fathom.

On a beautiful spring day when Marc was eleven years old, he returned from school clutching a handful of paperwork while impatiently yelling my name.

“Mom, mom, mom!” Marc bellowed.

“Hold on, honey. I’m on the phone.” I replied.

I was on the phone with a friend of my father’s, Melanie Marks, founder of Connecticut House Histories. At the time, my father, Edward Collins, was devoting a great amount of his time, passion and effort into trying to save Gustave Whitehead’s historic home in Fairfield, Connecticut, from demolition. For those of you who don’t know, Gustave Whitehead was an aviation pioneer who made history’s first manned, powered, controlled, sustained flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft in Bridgeport, Connecticut, two years before the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. My mother’s grandmother, Mary Savage (Jusewicz) was one of eighteen witness’s to Whitehead’s flight, so my family has an interest in preserving Whitehead’s historical home and legacy.

I had to end my conversation with Melanie more abruptly than I would have preferred, but Marc’s urgent pleas could not be put off any longer. Ironically, Marc had just returned from a school trip to visit the Osborne Homestead Museum, a historic house located in Derby, Connecticut. (pictured above)

“What’s up, Marc?” I asked.

Marc asked, “Mom do we have carrots, corn, celery, potatoes and chicken broth?”

Confused, I opened the refrigerator and took a quick inventory.

“Yes, Marc, we actually do,” I said, while I checked the kitchen cabinet for chicken broth. “Why are you asking?”

Marc unrolled the papers that were clenched in his sweaty fist and handed them to me. I stared at a wrinkled recipe that boasted it would make, “Enough to feed a large colonial family.”

“Where did you get this?” I inquired.

Marc replied, “Mom, I had the best day! We went on a school trip, visited this old house and I learned how people lived in colonial times. This is what they ate. I even saw the kitchen that they cooked in. It was awesome! I’m making dinner tonight…and dessert,” he added, handing me another recipe for an apple cobbler dessert.

“Do we have the stuff to make this too?” he asked, “Do we?”

Glancing over the second recipe, I surmised that we also had all of the ingredients to make the dessert.

I nodded my head, yes. Marc had never shown an interest, and had no experience in cooking for that matter either, especially not dinner and dessert, I thought.

“Okay, get everything out that I need,” Marc stated, “but I’m doing it all by myself.”

“Marc, these recipes are entirely from scratch,” I explained, as I started grabbing all of the ingredients, pots, pans, measuring cups and utensils that he would need.

Marc replied, “I know mom, I can do it. Tell everyone that I’m making dinner.”

“Okay, Marc,” I replied, “but I’m going to stay and watch you,  just in case there are any questions. And to make sure that you don’t cut yourself. In fact, if you cook, I’ll clean the kitchen!”

Marc gave me a quick smile as he carefully read the first recipe so he could perform each step. Marc began chopping the carrots, then the celery and moved onto the daunting task of peeling the potatoes while his large pot of broth began boiling on the stove. My eldest son, Kevin, walked in the room, took one look around and asked, “What’s going on?”

“Marc is making dinner for the family tonight.”

“And dessert.” Marc added.

Kevin yelled for my middle son, Eric (Whose nickname is Rocky). “Rocky, come here, you have got to see this!” Kevin laughed.

Seconds later Rocky flew into the room. “What’s going on?” he asked Kevin.

Kevin replied with a chuckle, “Marc is making dinner tonight.”

“And dessert.” Marc added.

“Well, I’m not eating it.” Rocky stated with a snicker.

As they left the kitchen, I heard Kevin yell, “Good luck, Marc.”

Two and a half hours (and one destroyed kitchen) later, with flour, dirty dishes and scattered remnants of vegetables everywhere…both dinner and dessert were finally prepared. The soup was ready and the cobbler was in the oven. Marc looked as disheveled as the kitchen when he exhaustedly stated, “That was a lot of work.”

“Not as easy as throwing a Hot Pocket in the microwave, is it?” I asked, as Marc and I set the table together.

“No way!” Marc replied, before becoming a bit nervous about his dinner tonight. “Mom, do you think it’s going to be any good?”

I have to admit, although messy, the kitchen smelled wonderful. “Marc, your soup looks delicious and it smells even better,” I replied, “Don’t worry, everyone is going to love it.”

Excitedly, Marc called his brothers for dinner. Reluctantly they came. We sat at the table while Marc filled each of our bowls and served us the first meal that he had ever made entirely on his own. The soup was delicious! Both Kevin and Rocky praised Marc endlessly as they asked for second helpings. Marc beamed as he served each of his brothers more of his colonial soup.

Over dinner Marc told us all about his day and what he had learned about the Osborne family. He mentioned that the lady at the Osborne Homestead said the Osborne family was buried close by, then Marc asked if I would take him to the cemetery to visit their grave-sites.

As dinner was winding down, the timer on the oven went off signaling that Marc’s apple cobbler was done.

“What was that?” Rocky asked.

“That’s my dessert!” Marc replied.

“You made dessert too?” Rocky smiled, “This kid is amazing!”

Kevin added, “I have to hand it to you Marc, I’m impressed. I didn’t think you could do all of this by yourself!”

The smell of baked apples and brown sugar filled the air as Marc served his homemade apple cobbler with a side of whipped cream. Everyone was in heaven as we talked, laughed and devoured our dessert.

“Marc, you did it!” I said, giving him a big hug.

“Thanks, Mom. Are you still going to clean the kitchen?” Marc asked, as he glanced over at the disaster that awaited me.

“Yes Marc, I am. Thank you for making a wonderful meal.” I said.

“I love you Mom.” Marc replied.

“I love you too, Marc. And I’m really proud of you!” I said.

I am so grateful to the Shelton School system for giving my child the opportunity to visit the Osborne Homestead. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Osborne Homestead for the wonderful learning experience and subsequent inspiration that they provided for my son. It is truly priceless.

I am deeply saddened that Gustave Whitehead’s self-built home in Fairfield was not preserved and saved from demolition, nor were P.T. Barnum’s Home, Tom Thumb’s Home or the Wheeler Mansion, to name just a few.

In a world of YouTube, Netflix and video games, are we as parents offering our children the best learning experiences available to them?

I say my son’s experience at the Osborne Homestead answers the above question with a definitive “No.”  It is important to value, preserve, visit and donate to ensure the continued care of the historical homes in our state for ourselves and future generations. I know I will.